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Building A Custom Home: 5 Pros You’ll Want on Your Team


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Multitaskers, unite!

Building a custom home can be an extremely rewarding, satisfying experience. Or… it can be stressful. Your level of enjoyment will be directly linked to the quality of help you have along the way.

There are a series of key people that will be involved in your home build and now is the time to start building a team of professionals to ensure you have the best possible experience.

Let’s break down the most important players:

1. Builder

If you aren’t sure where to begin, START HERE. Your builder determines so much about your building experience.  In my experience, choosing a builder was the best starting point. 

Most builders have strong existing relationships with local banks, realtors, designers, and architects. If you’re starting from scratch, simply going off their referrals alone will save you a lot of time and headaches.

Also, a builder can provide you with invaluable guidance that can prevent you from going down time consuming and expensive “wrong roads”.  

When building a custom home, a good builder can help you:

  • Select a site
  • Determine the best style of house to fit your budget and/or lot
  • Prioritize your wishlist
  • Create an accurate budget
  • Locate trusted local sources for building supplies and selections
  • Find solutions to overcome challenges
  • Provide encouragement and reassurance

If you are trying to decide among many builders, take the time to

  • Check references + credentials
  • Tour their recent projects (most builders will happily show you their work!)
  • Read + review building contracts

Example Questions To Ask Potential Custom Home Builders

  • What are your current timelines?
  • How do you typically involve homeowners in the process?
  • How do you price your services?
  • What is the average price range of your projects?
  • What is your budget philosophy?
  • How do you invoice/handle draws?
  • How many years of experience have you had in the industry?
  • How would you describe the style of homes you build?
  • What sets you apart from other local building companies?
  • How do you insure your projects?

2. Realtor

Not everyone needs a realtor, but many will require the services of a realtor to purchase a lot, purchase a home from a construction company, or to sell their current home.  

A realtor can provide you with information about your current home value as well as home costs in your local market, which will help you make a more informed decision about how much you can and should spend on your new build.

If you are trying to decide among many realtors, take the time to

  • Check references + credentials
  • Familiarize yourself with the individual’s real estate group (if applicable)
  • Read + review contracts thoroughly

Example Questions To Ask Potential Realtors

  • What is your experience with clients who are building a custom home?
  • Can you give me a list of referrals?
  • How long have you been in the industry?
  • Will I be working with you or with a team?
  • How do your fees work?
  • Do you have any special relationships with local building professionals?
  • How will you help me buy/sell my home?

3. Lender

Different banks provide different types of financial products relevant to new construction.  There are a variety of options for how to finance your new build (and your eventual mortgage). Not every bank offers every type of loan. 

Ask around for recommendations, and set up meetings to go over financing options waaaaayyyyy before you think you need to start this step.  You’ll be glad to have your ducks in a row when the time comes!

If you’ve already selected a builder and/or a realtor that you trust, using their preferred lending partners can help make this process much easier.

Example Questions To Ask Potential Lenders

  • What are my options for financing our build?
  • How do your fees work?
  • What are current interest rates? Are they fixed?
  • How much down payment will I need?
  • How do you handle construction draws?
  • What happens if the project takes longer than expected or costs more than planned?

4. Architect/Draftsman

If you are starting from scratch with a floor plan, you will engage the services of an architect early in the process.  You will want to look for someone who matches your vision aesthetically, of course, but you also need to find someone who will be a good match to your budget and local building requirements.

Although you can technically start with a floorplan you love, I strongly discourage you from engaging an architect until you are clear on your site and have lined up your financing.

I learned the hard way during our building process that a.) your site is what determines the feasibility of building a custom home…not your dream vision and 2.) your architect needs to be aware of your budget up front (for both the total project and the architectural service fees). Otherwise you set yourself up for some big-time disappointment!

Example Questions to Ask Potential Architects

  • How do you bill for your services? What is your rate?
  • What is the average cost of a completed set of plans?
  • How do I contribute my vision/input for the project?
  • How do you ensure that the home is well suited to the land it will be built on?
  • What is your design philosophy?
  • What is your design process?
  • What style of home do you typically design?
  • What environmental considerations do you incorporate into your designs?


5. Designer

Not everyone needs a designer (some builders include design services), but if you want to bring one onboard… the earlier the better!

Designers look at things differently than builders and architects, so it is good to have their eyes on your floorpans before they’re finalized. This is especially crucial when you’re building a fully custom home with a floorplan that has never been built before!

A knowledgable designer will be great at spotting potential design or flow issues.  Many designers offer hourly consultation services so you can try them out and get a feel for whether you are a good match before you commit to your level of collaboration.

Even the most design-oriented homeowner can benefit from having a trained and creative resource to bounce ideas off of during the process. I had a very clear vision for our home design, but I also relied on the experience and knowledge from our builder’s designer throughout the process. As they say, “two heads are better than one!”

Example Questions to Ask Potential Designers

  • How do you typically work with builders and trades on a new build?
  • How do you charge for your services?
  • Do you allow consultations or are you primarily full service?
  • How involved do you prefer homeowners to be?
  • How would you describe your design style?
  • What is your design process?
  • What kinds of mistakes have come up in past projects? How did you fix them?
  • Can you work within my budget?

By now you have a pretty good idea about what types of professionals you will need to hire to help move you through the process of building a custom home. Hopefully this article has helped get you thinking about the first steps you’ll need to take as you begin the process. If you are still in the beginning stages, you might be a great fit for my 7 Day Dream Home workbook. You can read more about it (and learn how to create a strong vision when you’re building a custom home here).

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Stay tuned for more resources to help you build your home!


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